A new draft map of U.S. House districts in Georgia shows Bibb County sliced in two.
Most of Bibb is set to join the 2nd Congressional District, now held by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. Under the same draft, Republican strongholds in north Bibb County would remain in the 8th Congressional District of U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ashburn.
“Some would say it’s bad to split a county,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon. “But I look at it another way. Now we’re going to have two people represent us. ... No matter who is in the White House, we’ll have someone with potential clout.”
The state Legislature must redraw political maps every 10 years based on new U.S. census numbers and population shifts. Each congressional district must contain a near-exact number of people. This time it’s 691,975 for each district, plus or minus only one person.
The demography of the new Bishop district is one good predictor of continuing Democrat strength: Close to 51 percent of its voting age population is black.
Scott’s 8th Congressional District reaches through Houston, Twiggs, Wilkinson, Jones and Monroe counties. Under the draft proposal, he loses locations north of there, but he picks up several counties near the Florida border. About 30 percent of his voting-age constituency is black. Historically and statistically, that means a Republican district.
Crawford and Peach counties would join most of Bibb in the southwest Georgia 2nd Congressional District, which ends at the Florida and Alabama border.
Baldwin County is drawn out of incumbent Democrat Rep. John Barrow’s district. The last white Democratic representative from the Deep South is sketched in a very much changed district that does not include his home base in Savannah.
Instead, Baldwin would make one edge of the 10th Congressional District of state Rep. Paul Brown, R-Athens.
The GOP controls both the state House and Senate, and with their majorities are passing their own redistricting maps without edit. The U.S. House may get the same treatment: Nearly party-line approval after the few days it takes for a bill to formally grind through the Legislature.
After that, all maps move to Washington, D.C., for federal approval under the federal Voting Rights Act, which bars disenfranchising or diluting the minority vote.
The maps will be used for candidates who are signing up to run in the 2012 elections, if the borders are approved by either a Washington federal judge or by the U.S. Department of Justice. Both routes have time limits that would return maps in time for the 2012 election cycle. But if the maps get bogged down in years of court arguments as they did in 2001, court-drawn interim maps may have to be used.
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